Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fabulous Fall

            It has been a fabulous fall in Eugene, for me at least.  Despite being a bit sick with your basic crud, we had a lovely Halloween party where both my costume and my mother-in-law's costume involved fiber related themes:
          Our very good friend came to visit and we all went on a walk along Fall Creek. The Big Leaf Maples (which are very appropriately named) had just dumped all their leaves like ginormous snowflakes in the previous night's rainstorm, but they hadn't gotten all soggy and slippery yet.  

The Maidenhair ferns loved the increase in fall moisture and were showing off their frills to great effect.

There isn't really all that much fall color in Oregon compared to many parts of the U.S. because we have many more conifers than deciduous trees, but those we have are putting on a nice show this year.

We don't go hiking nearly as much as we should. It's so easy to become complacent about the natural beauty of the world, but we really should take note:


Over the course of the next few days I worked on finished the applied i-cord border to the heirloom pullover (hand-spun knitted by Reida for Seth in his high-school days, but really too hot for him to ever have worn much) which I had STEEKED (cut open with scissors!) a few days earlier at my friend's house (after having watched her do a few of her prized hand-spun sweaters herself). Then I just sewed on some buttons (vintage plastic from one of Reida's mother's old coats), and...

Viola!-- I was ready to vote 
in our historic election in style!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stormwater Rises (#14)

I did it! I finished my first lace project: The Stormwater Scarf made of Handmaiden Seasilk. The yarn shop in Seattle where I actually bought the yarn did not have the pattern, but the kind people at Handmaiden emailed it to me when I told them of my predicament as they only sell it as a kit, but I already had the yarn.

The blocking was completely magical. Even with the half sized skein you can see it came out quite large after blocking. I  simply had to cast off before I lost my mind with fear of a huge mistake. I could have done at least 3 more repeats with the amount left .  I had seen blocking work on other people's blogs, but still, I was quite surprised that it took my lovely, but rumply piece and turned it into an amazingly open, flat item in which one can see all the stitches! 

Don't look too closely though, there are some definite pattern mistakes.

Still, I lovelovelove it! Don't worry; I'm still going to give it to my friend. I'm not THat selfish.

Monday, October 6, 2008

One down, still 16 to go

Well, I don't know where it is, so I can't take it's picture, but I recalled last night that I have an unfinished hooked yarn teddy bear floating around somewhere so that's one more U.F.O, so even though I finished the Stormwater Scarf, I'm STILL at 16. Crikey!

Remember I said Real fiber addicts have way more? A woman in my knitting group hurt her hand and isn't allowed to knit for several weeks, so she's spending her time ripping out old projects she has decided she'd never finish. She called it "a massive yarn reclamation project." Several weeks worth of ripping out?! I sit in awe of her knitting fanaticism.  P.S. Get well soon, you know who you are!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


So, I started and finished a new project all in one day! I went to a great workshop about making felted flowers at a great little local craft/book/high quality natural toys and art called Creative Hands Mercantile. I made this gorgeous flower garland in 3 hours!

In fact I think I might go embellish it a bit with a few beads.....

Monday, September 29, 2008

I didn't used to believe in U.F.O.'s!

It's true. I used to have one or two (maybe three!) fiber projects going at a time. I thought you had to finish them before you could start a new one (I used to think the same thing about books!). Was it a question of duty, or did it simply seem too decadent to indulge more? Whatever it was, it's gone now! Much to my tidy husband's chagrin I'm sure, I started hanging out with a much wider collection of Knitters and Spinners (not to mention reading the Yarn Harlot) during my sabbatical year. One of the many epiphanies I had (O-kay, one of the few, but still, a few epihanies is a heckuvalot better than none!) is that I realized that fiber love, much like familial love, can expand to encompass as many people, I mean projects, as you could ever meet! Now there are U.F.O.'s* flying all over my house.

I think I managed to corral most all of them here. Time to count!

1. Alpaca/Merino/Silk blend. Spun as close to laceweight as I could (first effort ever) using a worsted draw. It's really more like fingering weight. It is intended to become world's largest Elizabeth Zimmermann PI Shawl (which will be my 2nd ever lace project to knit).


2.   Supplies for beaded ornaments. I made a bunch last year and hope to make more this year. I should have looked at the pattern company's name, but you can buy a little kit and then reuse the pattern. They're like little socks you slip over a glass ornament. It sounds a bit tacky, but they're really lovely! Really!

3.  Homespun+FunFur+FiberTrends=irresistable  cuteness

4. Random bulky wooly ends for pot holders.

5. Felt pieces for cloak idea

6.  Kumihimo cord braiding is great to stuff in your purse.  You can do really complicated stuff, but I'm totally satisfied with the basic one which is pretty mindless. I got the kits from Carolina Homespun at the Northwest Regional Spinner's Association (NWRSA) conference last spring.

7.  My sister sent me this cool, renewable, fair trade, etc., BANANA fiber yarn. It's pretty thick and stiff in a way, but really silky smoothy. I'm bound and determined to find a way to make it into a new back for a wonderful old tapestry cat pillow I inherited from our grandmother. Suggestions?

8.  I bought this spindle, made by Janis Thompson and her family at Dyelots.  Some of the fiber too. Some of it I dyed (chartreuse and cadet blue), some she did (green multi). It's my first spindle project, so it's a bit on the bulky side and the whole color repeat plied together definitely pushes the spindle to it's capacity limits! I think it will make some fun soft slippers.

9.  Needlepoint bookmark kit I bought at the Tintagel Castle Ruins in Cornwall, England when I ran out of traveling projects. This was of course in the Spring of '05! I really only have about 2 hours left on this. Needlepoint's just not my favorite I guess.

10. My second spindling project. I took a "different ways to use colored roving / different plying techniques class" from Beki Reis-Montgomery at the NWRSA conference last spring.  Too cool. This will make some crazy socks. Although I love Wearing hand-knit socks, I don't really love sock knitting, but I figure that spinning the wool on a spindle will take so long that I'll hardly ever have to knit them!

11.  This is a gorgeous sweater that Seth's mom knit for him eons ago, but which he never wears because it's too warm, that I would love to steek and turn into a super sweater coat cardigan, if I can get my nerve up.....

12.  My friend and NIA teacher and I got together and did some dying of purply wool. The bag of colorful Romney locks was a gift from Rolly Thompson of Fox Hollow Farm after she won it back after donating it in a raffle at NWRSA. I want to try that wrapped yarn technique that was in SpinOff a few issues back.

13. This is the wool for my hunting jacket concept  (maybe E.Z.'s adult surprise jacket?) that I wrote that giant blog about a few weeks ago.

14.  I had better finish this one quick before my dear friend reads this!  We were in the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria B.C., Canada when I was oohing and ahhing over a shawl made of a really expensive skein of Handmaiden SeaSilk, and my friend slyly said, "You could knit this for a very dear friend."  I couldn't afford the full skein, but a few months later I found a half sized skein at a shop (I can't remember the name, but it was in a lovely historic home) near the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle.  Almost done. Even the half sized skein is like a million yards!

15. My wonderful mother in law gave me a gift certificate for one of our LYS's (Soft Horizons) for my birthday last year, because I discovered that though I love to spin wool, I really need cotton cardigans for work. The yarn is O-wool Balance (50% organically grown cotton, 50% organically grown merino wool); the pattern is the Bacardi sweater from No Sheep For You. This one I actually managed to put on my Ravelry site (Laurarose).  Of course I can't leave a pattern alone now that I've read E.Z., and I'm trying to make a yoke top....

16. Homespun Navajo/chain plied wool and silk yarn (I even won a 3rd place ribbon for it at The Black Sheep Gathering (in June '07).  I'm trying top down one piece construction as described in Barbar Walker's classic tome (all her books are tomes!) Knitting From The Top.  

Stash storage all tidied up:

Some "Real" fiber addicts have many more U.F.O.'s than this, but I've seen enough of them to be a true believer. I guess I had better stop blogging and get back to stash busting!

*Un-Finished Objects

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Eugene summer

Many of you may have heard of the Eugene Saturday Market. It's a great combination craft fair and farmers' market. You may not realize there is also a smaller, Tuesday market in the same location.
It's more produce oriented, and a lot quieter. I managed to get down there for my last possible visit this year the day before school started to get some flowers to beautify my classroom. Take a guess how much those flower bouquets cost. Wrong! They were huge and they were only $10.00!

Another great place to see flowers in Eugene is the Rose Garden. I wish I could capture the scents. A wide angle lens would help, too. They are lovely individually and taken altogether.

The Rose Garden is located in East Skinner Butte Park just west of Skinner's Butte.

We are very lucky to live quite close to this park and the river.

We even have a great new playground there which is a playful re-creation of old-time Eugene and includes fun water features for the kiddos.

Do come visit sometime!

Friday, September 19, 2008


A knock at the door. I look out and see Ed Alverson, who works for The Nature Conservancy in Eugene, and who is one of my biggest local heros. "I have a question about your planting strip," he says. "Oh, goody," I think, "He noticed all our native plants!" I go out and he points out this plant:
"Do you know what this is?" he queries politely (almost too politely).
"Uhhhh, it's a clematis...some one told me it's a native," I reply cautiously.
"Well, there is a native clematis that is very similar, but it has serrated leaves. This one is very invasive and we're trying to keep it from spreading around Lane County."
"Oh, no! I've been encouraging it!" I cry, much chagrined. I didn't tell him I had even given people seeds for it! Here are some seeds:

It's a lovely evergreen vine with delicate tiny white, delicately scented flowers and beautiful long slender feathery seeds. PULL IT OUT THIS WEEKEND! My apologies if I'm the one who told you to plant it in the first place!

While you're at it, dig up your privets:

Your cotoneasters (spelling?):

and anything else that isn't native, but which makes berries that birds could eat and spread.

While you're at it, if you suddenly have big lovely yellow irises, they're bad as well.

We filled up the whole trailer to overflowing with invasive plants to take to the big commercial composter here (Lane Forest Products) to be sure the seeds would be done in by their higher heat and grinder uppers.

All of our trellises are bare! Luckily the fall rains and planting season should be on the way soon. Does anyone know where we can get some of the NATIVE clematis?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Maude, oh, my!

Maude is a 2 year old Shetland cross ewe living a happy life on a small farm in a beautiful little valley near Eugene, Oregon, with my mother-in-law, Reida, and this is her story. O.k. really it's just the story of 1/4 of her first adult fleece, but that didn't have much punch as a lead. I am so lucky to have a mother-in-law who raises nice, soft, fluffy sheep in a variety of lovely earth tones. However, earth tones just won't do for a hunting season jacket, so....

The fleece itself is a lovely, long staple with nice medium crimp. I have no idea how those books and magazines always get such nice crimp pictures, so you'll just have to believe me. Yes, it is a multiple coat fleece, but I have never combed a fleece before to separate the softer from the coarser and I'm not starting just now (maybe with the other 1/4 I still have of this...)

Step 1: WASH AND DRY. As long as you remember not to let it agitate, the easiest way to wash fleece is in a top loading washer. Fill it with very hot water and some Dawn (cuts the grease, y'know?), push the fleece in gently with a broom handle and let it soak. Be sure to leave the lid open and turn the dial immediately to spin, just in case. You can poke it gently with the broom handle once or twice to be sure the top is wet, but don't overpoke or it will felt! After a while, spin it out and repeat, but use gentler soap--shampoo is good. Maybe once with conditioner then. Finally do the same thing a few more times, but with clear water. This always takes about twice as long as I plan for, so I was glad to be hanging out with another fiber buddy while we did this! Spread the fleece out on a sheet somehow suspended in an airy place (I decided my glider made of wooden slats was perfect) to dry.

Step 2: SORT When you have time,and most of your family is out of the house, spread out all the fiber for your project[The giant ball of roving is a lucious meriono /bamboo blend which I purchased through Dyelots.] and sort and weigh it and divide it up into piles for dying. I use a spring-load kitchen scale and an old letter scale. Imagine trying to balance wool on a letter scale. I really need to get a digital one. If you're smart, you'll label all your piles with your plans now while you still have half a brain and aren't lugging around vats of boiling colored water!

Step 3 DYE: Do your dying according to the instructions. It is possible to put 2 colors in one pot, but you have to be careful not to let it boil (really I suppose you should be careful of that anyhow), which I was not. The yellow and purple bubble together to make a fairly hideous old dusty mauve. I was totally disappointed, so imagine my joy when I rinsed it and discovered that for some reason, very little of the purple even stuck and I ended up with this beautiful antique yellow! Dying is often quite surprising, but the results are almost always fun! Also, you can always over-dye something if you don't care for the initial results.

The flourescent hunter's orange was a complete sucess though!

Step 4: ADMIRE After letting your dyebaths cool, spread the fleece out to dry again. Seth coined a new word when he saw the results. He said, "Whoa! Those are Hyperdelic!"

Step x: OPTIONS I left some white, too and carded some of it with tangerine angelina (a shiny plastic-y "bling" fiber) and some with copper angelina.

I'm planning a 3-ply worsted to bulky yarn with this plus some pre-dyed merino/bamboo rovings I bought at the NWRSA conference. This is going to be one crazy sweater (in about 4 years)!